The Ghosts of Memories at Holyrood Palace

You know when you go outside and intend to just explore your new neighborhood for a little while? See where you’re living? Find out if there is a cool coffee shop or bookstore on the next block over?

And then you find yourself two miles away and on a tour of a nine hundred year old castle where Mary Queen of Scots used to live?

No? Just me?


These are the kinds of things that keep happening to us here in Edinburgh. We wander out into the city, sometimes just a few steps out the door and BANG. Some ancient history jumps out and sucks us in.

I just wanted some coffee.


Instead, I got Holyrood Palace. But why complain, right? Let’s just go with it.


Let’s just accept that we’re living in an amazing city where living history and ancient history are all tied together. Where the stories about kings and queens, intrigues and plots, politics and love triangles and beheadings and wars were actually lived. Where the stones I’m standing on were tread upon by royals, by headsmen, by soldiers and by archers.

None of whom where there on this day. Well, there were a few guards, but the royal guard was absent.


I SO wish I could have taken photos inside the palace. It’s beautiful! All of it artfully staged, of course, but still pretty dang amazing.

We walked through the queen’s dining room, the throne room, the gallery, and the actual bedroom of Mary Queen of Scots. We stood in her tiny little personal dining room where she took her meals, and the chapel where she prayed. We were in the gallery where knights are made, where Sean Connery himself received his knighthood. That was pretty cool.

Who knows, maybe if we’d been allowed to take photos inside I would have captured the ghost of Bald Agnes, or maybe David Rizzio.


We couldn’t take photos of the inside, but the outside was fair game, including the ruined abbey, and the gardens behind the palace.


Just like the ruined Abbey at St. Andrews, this one had empty stone coffins on the ground. complete with carved out cadaver holes which would just fit a human body. Body shaped holes which would just maybe be big enough for a modern eight year old. People were tiny back then.


The abbey is full of monument stones and plaques, most of which told of people we’d never heard of. The place still feels… sort of creepy. Not scary at all, and not sacred or holy, just full of the ghosts of memories.


The ticked price included an audio guide, which was really helpful and full of details I wouldn’t have thought to ask. I was also glad to find out that our ticket for the day was actually good for a whole year, so we can go back for free any time we want. I can’t wait to go back and take my kids to see it. My Boy will probably be bored out of his skull, but my Girl will love it.


Our little neighborhood discovery walk turned into a completely different afternoon than we had planned, and I couldn’t be happier. Sometimes our best days are the ones that turn out completely different than we expected.

I never did get that cup of coffee though.

On the map: Click here to see this on our Google Map.

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About akil3655

A Scotsman and his American photographer wife traveling the world and writing about it. Tales, reviews, photos, interviews and crazy goings on. Because you never know what's going to happen.

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2 Responses to The Ghosts of Memories at Holyrood Palace

  1. Jennifer Souza August 17, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    No coffee???? Sheesh. I hope the castle was worth it. lol

    • akil3655
      Twitter: kiltandacamera
      August 18, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

      It was. The did have a cafe which served coffee, but it looked awfully expensive. We opted to make our own at home later. We’re ‘frugal’ like that (or tight fisted, you pick, lol).
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